Jarryd Hayne Attends San Francisco 49ers Media Opportunity
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Australian Rugby League Convert Jarryd Hayne Impresses in Preseason Debut

Jarryd Hayne Attends San Francisco 49ers Media Opportunity

It might have been on the other side of the world, but many Australians woke up today with plans of keeping a close eye on the San Francisco 49ers’ preseason opener in Houston against the Texans.

The reason? Former National Rugby League superstar Jarryd Hayne was set to make his debut in a sport he has only been playing for nine months, and it appears the ambitious running back has made some huge strides in his determination to become an NFL starter.

Hayne’s final stat line read 5 carries for 63 yards; not too shabby for a man many expected would be an afterthought in the U.S. after making the switch. His numbers were punctuated by an explosive 53-yard carry that displayed both the elusiveness he was known for in Australia, and some form tailback skills as well.

A routine between-the-tackles run turned into a huge gain after Hayne patiently pattered behind fullback Bruce Miller, who teamed with tight end Garrett Celek to seal the edge and allow Hayne to cut back into a big hole on the inside.

Once in the open field, Hayne skirted past safety Rahim Moore, who did just enough to make Hayne stumble. A clean whiff by Moore and Hayne would have taken it to the house.

With the cover defense gaining ground, Hayne must have fought against every rugby league instinct he had when he tucked the ball under his outside arm to prevent the fumble before running out of bounds.

Off the ball, Hayne looked like a work in progress. He made some average blocks but was guilty of a bit too much “quarterback watching” on routes out of the flat. He was thrown to once: an incompletion on an ill-advised Blaine Gabbert sling pass, which Hayne caught behind the line of scrimmage with a Texans linebacker already there to greet him.

The rest of Hayne’s runs were pedestrian on a tough day for San Fran’s ground game. All other active tailbacks tallied 10 carries for 36 yards. With Reggie Bush and Kendall Hunter both on the sidelines, it seems Hayne is fighting for the third- or fourth-string slot, or, at the very least, a good enough preseason to warrant a contract with another team should he get cut in a fortnight’s time.

For now though, the 27-year-old many doubted could match the youth, technique and skill of NFL rookies vying for his job appears to be not only holding his own, but turning some heads as well.

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